U.S. Workers to White House: In 2018, Give Us a Chance

By Joe Guzzardi
December 19, 2017

If President Trump could do one thing to help American workers find good jobs and, after four decades of flat wages, see a bump in their paychecks, he would slash the number of employment-based visas issued to foreign nationals.
 
In 2017, median household income adjusted for inflation was comparable to what it was in 2000, and median income for a full-time male worker was the same as in 1972, more than half a century ago. Yet, despite American workers’ obvious dire straits, in fiscal year 2017, according to the Department of Homeland Security, the federal government issued foreign nationals a staggering, near-unbelievable two million visas that authorized U.S. employment. Best guesstimate is that at least 75 percent of those two million visas either displace or deny an American worker a job opportunity.
 
Worse, many of the work permit recipients were illegal aliens who were granted some type of temporary exception like deferred action for childhood arrivals (DACA). The two million are outside legal admissions and temporary guest worker programs. Each year, about one million legal immigrants enter and receive work permission. Furthermore, between 750,000 and one million guest worker permits are granted annually.
 
No one knows for sure how many illegal aliens work under the table or how many enter legally but overstay their non-employment visas, and eventually land jobs. The Pew Research Center estimated that in 2014 eight million illegal immigrants held jobs, a significant percentage of them outside agriculture, and in maintenance, management, professional, sales and office support jobs.
 
Visa abuses at Disney and other major corporations propelled the H-1B into the headlines. But dozens of other visas allow employers to tap into a willing and pliant labor force – among them, H-2A, H-2B, H-4, J-1 and L-1 – sidelining Americans.
 
In the meantime, President Trump’s promise to bring back manufacturing jobs has fallen flat. While it’s true that he’s been in the White House less than a year and has had little time to make good, manufacturing jobs may never come back. This summer, a McKinsey Global Institute report acknowledged that factory construction is on the uptick, but without the accompanying jobs. Automation has replaced humans.
 
McKinsey director and the report’s co-author James Manyika challenged labor analysts: “Find a factory anywhere in the world built in the last five years – not many people work there.” An earlier McKinsey study predicted that by 2030, robots could replace 30 percent of the U.S. workforce.
 
Despite the paramount importance of protecting American workers by not flooding the jobs market with cheap labor, the over-abundance of employment-based visas and the corresponding worker influx continue unabated and mostly under the radar; the establishment media ignores it.
 
In 2018, President Trump’s administration should re-familiarize itself with the old adage: addition by subtraction. Subtracting employment-based visas means adding American jobs.
 
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Joe Guzzardi is a Californians for Population Stabilization Senior Writing Fellow. Contact him at joeguzzardi@capsweb.org. Find him on Twitter @joeguzzardi19.

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